w w w . L a w y e r S e r v i c e s . i n



Commissioner of Income Tax v/s Seshasayee Paper and Boards Limited

    Tax Case No. 454 of 1986 (Reference No. 302 of 1986)

    Decided On, 25 February 1998

    At, High Court of Judicature at Madras

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE N.V. BALASUBRAMANIAN & THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE R. JAYASIMHA BABU

    Deokinandan Commissioner. K. M. L. Majele Assessee.



Judgment Text

N.V. BALASUBRAMANIAN, J.


The following questions of law have been referred to us for our consideration at the instance of the Department:


"1. Whether, on the facts and in the circumstances of the case, the Appellate Tribunal was correct in law in holding that the sum of Rs. 42, 512 incurred as centage charges and other expenses paid to Southern Railways laid out for purposes of business and, accordingly, in allowing the same as a revenue outgoing for the assessment year 1972-73 ?


2. Whether, on the facts obtaining in this case the Appellate Tribunal was correct in law in holding that the interest received on the deposits with the Electricity Board should not be deducted from the gross total income while determining the relief under section 80-I ?"


So far as the second question of law is concerned, it is fairly conceded by learned counsel for the Revenue that the issue raised in the question was considered by this court in the case of the very same assessee in the case reported in CIT v. Seshasayee Paper and Board Ltd. wherein it was held that the assessee was entitled to deduction under section 80-I of the Income-tax Act, 1961, in respect of the interest received on the deposits made by the assessee with the Electricity Board for the supply of electricity to the industry. Since the factual position is in no way different for the present assessment year, we answer the second question of law referred to us in the affirmative, against the Revenue and in favour of the assessee.


In so far as the first question is concerned, the assessment year with which we are concerned is 1972-73. The assessee admittedly was maintaining mercantile system of accounting during the relevant previous year. The assessee earlier had requested the Railways to examine the feasibility of providing a second railway siding since the company was experiencing difficulties with one siding operation. Therefore, the assessee wrote to the Railways to help them for construction of another siding in the matter of improving the loading and unloading of wagons. It seems that the Railways started construction of a second siding on the basis of the request of the assessee. Subsequently, the assessee during the relevant previous year wrote a letter on October 19, 1971, to the Divisional Superintendent, Southern Railway, requesting them not to proceed with the work of construction of the second railway siding. It appears, in the meantime, the Railways have incurred certain expenditure in bringing the materials for putting up the second siding. The railway authorities sent a bill to the assessee asking them to pay a sum of Rs. 42, 512 and the assessee claimed that the said amount was an expenditure incurred by the company for the purpose of laying a second siding, that is for the purpose of its business and it is entitled to claim the same as deduction against its business income. The Income-tax Officer held that the expenditure claimed by the assessee was neither revenue expenditure nor the same can be claimed as expenditure incurred for the purpose of the business, nor it has been incurred during the relevant previous year for the assessment year 1972-73 and, therefore, he disallowed the same. The assessee took the matter in appeal before the Appellate Assistant Commissioner who agreed with the view of the Income-tax Officer and held that the expenditure was not incurred during the accounting year relevant to the assessment year 1972-73 and, therefore, the assessee was not entitled to claim deduction of the same. The assessee took the matter in further appeal before the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal. The Appellate Tribunal perused the letter of the assessee dated October 19, 1971, as well as the reply letter of the Railways dated June 28, 1972, and came to the conclusion that the expenditure incurred by the assessee was laid out for business purposes and should be allowed as a revenue outgoing in the computation of income for the assessment year 1972-73. According to the Tribunal, the liability towards the expenditure had accrued to the assessee during the relevant accounting year and, therefore, the assessee was entitled to deduction. The Revenue has challenged that order of the Tribunal and the questions of law set out earlier have been referred to usAccording to learned counsel for the Revenue, the Southern Railway by letter dated September 29, 1972, has quantified the liability which the assessee has to bear and a bill was sent and, therefore, the liability arose in the subsequent assessment year. Learned counsel for the assessee, on the other hand, submitted that when the assessee had decided to abandon the project, it had incurred the liability and the railways subsequently quantified the liability and, therefore, the view of the Tribunal that the liability was incurred during the previous year was correct. In support of his submission, learned counsel for the assessee relied upon the decision reported in the case of CIT v. Seshasayee Paper and Board Ltd. and certain passages in the Law of Income-tax by Sampath Iyenger.


We have carefully considered the submissions of counsel. We have already set out the facts and circumstances of the case in detail which indicate that the assessee after initially requesting for the construction of the second siding decided to abandon the second siding project during the course of construction of the second siding by the railways. Accordingly, the assessee wrote to the authorities not to proceed with the project. At that precise point of time, when the railways was informed by the assessee that the project need not be carried on, certain expenses were incurred by the railways. Therefore, when the assessee took the decision to abandon the project, and requested the railways not to proceed with the second siding, the assessee has accepted that it would bear the expenditure incurred till then and since the assessee was maintaining the mercantile system of accounting, the liability towards the expenditure incurred by the railways had accrued on that date. No doubt, it is true that the railways by a letter dated September 26, 1972, had informed the assessee about the quantum of the amount incurred by the railways which the assessee was asked to bear, but it cannot be said that only by virtue of that letter of the railways, the liability to bear the cost had accrued against the assessee. In our opinion, at the point of time, when the assessee took a conscious decision not to proceed with the construction and informed the railways, the assessee had agreed to bear the liability for the expenses involved till then. What was done by the railways subsequently was the quantification of the liability and the railways merely by a subsequent letter informed the assessee the amount of the liability which the assessee had to bear. In other words, the railways, on the basis of the letter of the assessee merely quantified the liability and did not create any new liability which was not agreed to by the assessee earlier. Therefore, we are of the view that the liability has accrued during the previous year relevant to the assess

Please Login To View The Full Judgment!

ment year 1972-73 and the Tribunal was correct in holding that the assessee was entitled to the deduction of the liability for the assessment year 1972-73. Since we are holding on the facts of the case that the liability has accrued during the previous year for the assessment year 1972-73, it is unnecessary to consider the decision relied upon by counsel for the assessee. We, therefore, hold that the Tribunal was correct in holding that the sum of Rs. 42, 512 incurred by the assessee on account of centage and other expenses paid to Southern Railways was laid out for the purposes of business and arose during the assessment year 1972-73 and, accordingly, we answer the first question also in the affirmative, in favour of the assessee and against the Revenue. The assessee will be entitled to costs.
O R